Is Mending the New Bookclub?
We’ve all felt that pang of disappointment upon hearing the tear of a garment or tights, shortly followed by the fear that you might not ever be able to wear that garment again as it’s ruined and no longer looks perfectly new. Not only are we jarred about the time spent locating the item, trying it on, the waste of money spent but now the waste of a resource, and for most of us we see that as being the end of the garment’s life.
Why? Well for many reasons such as our inability or lack of skills to stitch the hole up, our fear of the stitch being visible, ugly or simply our perfectionistic tendencies telling us that it no longer looks good. Whether it be these reasons or another, something continues to drive people towards disposing of garments time and time again rather than seeking repair. However, you might have noticed a trend circulating, in which clever creative people are either purposely creating holes in garments or taking old clothing and sewing cool new patterns and teeny thread artworks in pieces, which inevitably creates a unique and one-of-a-kind piece. Find below a few of the Instagram handles we’ve discovered and have been inspired by.
Not only have these menders sewn up small holes, but the process has extended to re-creating the item of clothing itself, to personalise it and make it a stand out piece. It’s tough sewing and constructing an entirely new jacket or shoe, but stitching on some beautiful fabrics you’ve come across and a cool stitch pattern is achievable, even for the average Joe. In previous years, having a pin attached to your body or bag demonstrated your political viewpoints and now in our turbulent political climate, subtle and also not so discreet stitching images have been appearing too.
With the hashtag #visablemending boasting a remarkable 59.1K posts, it’s clearly not a fad, nor a nanna’s pasttime anymore. In Britian alone, close to half a million people have been reported to have taken up mending due to concerns for the environment and the recession (Guardian, 2020). Not only is this trend helping salvage clothes that have been deemed unfit, but it’s also changing the stigma around pre-loved clothes whilst preserving the precious resources used to create all of the garments in the first place. Through this process of converting a hole or stain in the garment into a pattern or stitch print people are spending time to stop, think, be creative and embark on a meditative process.
Visible mending, darning, slow stitching, there are a few hashtags being thrown around, but with each of the hashtags comes a key to a whole new movement and community, one in which you are surrounded by similar minded people, prioritising the planet, and also a community ready to teach you new useful skills and help to inspire you.
The other day I was wandering through one of my favourite pockets of Melbourne; Gertrude Street, when I came across the shop Honest and Friends. As I stepped inside this little unearthed oasis and perused through the clothes hanging neatly, I met Tesa, one of the owners, who was a ray of sunshine with her glowing olive complexion and bright smile. Tesa showed me around and told me a little about the brand, which she runs with with her mother. They use deadstock fabrics to create beautiful versatile pieces, in their Fitzroy studio, that cater to a multitude of ages, body types and women. What’s even cooler is that Tesa opens the studio up as well to people who have purchased their clothes and need a slight alteration to fit their bodies better.
Whilst I was carefully examining their creations Tesa was setting up some chairs around a sewing machine in the window. I also noticed a selection of snacks on the register, typical, and inquired if she was having an event. She informed me that every Tuesday she hosts sewing classes open for anyone to attend. Those attending part-take and learn how to sew, mend and become equipped with the skills to make their own clothes last longer, whilst chatting with familiar and unfamiliar faces.
This isn’t the only event of it’s kind, there are workshops, pop-ups and classes available to get involved with all over the world; from @stitch_school in Brixton, UK where they host workshops, community events and festival pop-ups to help the younger generation learn some really useful skills to Auckland where @thatperfecthour hosts mend stations as a means to promote sustainability and reinvention.
Slowly but surely, we are heading back to treasuring those art forms that our grandmothers all knew how to do. It was only yesterday, when I walked into a clothing store and the salesperson was advertising a jumper to me as being so
special because it was ‘hand-knitted’. If I had mentioned to my grandmother that a jumper was selling for $700, due to being hand-knitted she’d be upping her turn-over quick smart, or at least have a giggle at all of the pieces that she’d made me for free. But that’s exactly it, our grandmothers and mothers had time to sit, sew, talk about their pasts and transfer skill sets, whereas now our lives have changed, we are all so time poor and deprived of the time with our mums, who were also busy working, who could have been passing on the skills and stories that were once taught to them.
So maybe that’s just it, once we give ourselves the time to stop the rat race, and become absorbed in real skills that require our minds and hands, we begin to engage in practices better for ourselves and the planet.
If you’ve got a piece that you yourself have visibly mended, that you’d’ love to show off, please add a photo in the comments; we’d love to ogle at it.
And if your interest has been piqued and you’re keen to get some inspiration from these creatives or join the movement, check out these accounts and links below: